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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

Kathy Liebert – Cashing in on Poker AND Stocks

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There is often a common model that people are supposed to follow if they are to experience success later in life. It typically goes as follows: Get good grades in school, decide what you want to be when you grow up, enroll in a good college, and work towards landing a good job once you get out of college. Kathy Liebert’s early life seemed to follow this model to a T and playing poker for a living is probably the last thing anyone would have ever expected from her.

That’s because her life looked like it was headed directly into the corporate world and her actions certainly didn’t do anything to deviate from this line of thinking. She was born in Nashville, Tennessee and had grown up on Long Island in New York City. Liebert decided to stay within the state of New York when attending college and Marist would be her choice of universities as she eventually graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business and finance.

Liebert would put this degree to good use when she landed a job at the prestigious company known as Dun & Bradstreet. She was already living the dream of many people in the world as she was young, just out of college, and had a great job. But despite the fact that her life seemed to be heading down the path of future success, Kathy was very unhappy.

Corporate life had not quite been what Liebert had hoped for and she was quickly finding out that analyzing stocks was not the most exciting thing in the world. So after a full year at Dun & Bradstreet, she decided that enough was enough and started to do some soul searching.

The process began by a talk with her mother which yielded some very solid advice in that Kathy should find something she truly enjoyed doing and not worry about the money as it would come eventually. The good thing for Liebert is that she could afford to quit her job in the pursuit of more rewarding employment since she had done very well with prior investments she made in the stock market.

So with her back towards the corporate world and plenty of money to her credit, Liebert decided to do something totally off the wall and move out West. Colorado would be her destination and recreational skiing was her goal. And it would be out in Colorado where she would find her true calling in the game of poker.

Now Colorado wasn’t the first place that Liebert had played the game. Her beginnings in poker were linked to some small games with her family when she was a kid but it was just that – small family games. Her reintroduction to poker would involve playing in low limit games around the Colorado area. But Liebert didn’t just play casually as she was practically relentless in learning the game. So relentless that she was offered a job as a prop player by a casino.

Having this prop player job allowed Liebert to improve her skills even more while earning an hourly rate for starting up games and keeping existing ones going. Kathy got so much practice at the game of poker that she eventually decided her skills were up to the task of playing on her own for a living. And, along with her decision to play professionally, Liebert decided to make a full transition by moving to Las Vegas.

Kathy Liebert’s professional career began with some smaller tournaments in Vegas. The buy-ins were low and the prize pool was not huge but the excellent finishes she began piling up would be monumental to the beginning of her career. Liebert did so well that she didn’t finish outside the top 10 of a tournament until her 28th one and that was a 1997 World Series of Poker event! It was her first WSOP to be exact and she still managed a modest 18th place finish in the $3,000 Hold’em Pot Limit tournament. But what followed would by far be more impressive.

Entering just her second WSOP event the same year, Liebert decided to jump in one of the bigger No Limit Hold’em tourneys. She would be pitted against the likes of Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, Billy Baxter, Dan Harrington, and Max Stern making the odds seem stacked against her to repeat the success of the Pot Limit game. However, Kathy was undaunted and battled right down to the end with Stern until she came up just short of a gold bracelet. She took second place and earned $123,690 for the great finish.

High off her fantastic placing in the WSOP event, Liebert stayed hot on the tournament trail continuing to find success in virtually every poker setting she went in to. She followed her good showing at the 97’ WSOP with some quality finishes at the 98 WSOP including 17th place in the heralded $10,000 No Limit Hold’em World Championship. Liebert managed another 17th place finish in the same event in 2000 and continued to cash in just about every tourney she was in until 2002.

Up to this point, Kathy had earned herself a reputation in the poker world for being a very good player who was capable of cashing in any tournament she played. But one could definitely argue that she had yet to achieve the status of a star in the poker world. That would soon change though with her participation in a single event – The Party Poker Million.

Party Poker was the biggest name in the online poker scene at the time and, in being such, the company decided to offer people a huge limit tourney where the top prize was a million dollars. Kathy Liebert happened to take part in The Party Poker Million and out-dueled amateur player Beri Kacherian in the final to take the $1,000,000 top prize. In doing so, she became the first woman ever to win a million dollars in a poker tournament.

The interesting thing about Kathy though is that she didn’t run off and spend the money she had won on fancy sports cars or by gambling it away at a Craps table like many other players before her. Instead, she used her prior knowledge of the stock market to invest the winnings in something worthwhile. She did keep some of it to herself though as she had much, much more poker ahead of her.

She would continue her amazingly consistent play over the next couple of years that culminated in another second place finish at a WSOP event. But in 2004, she wouldn’t have to worry about just missing a gold bracelet anymore as she played an outstanding tournament in the $1,500 Limit Hold’em Shootout to take 1st place. She finally got her bracelet and earned $110,180 to go along with it.

Since her bracelet run in 2004, Kathy has yet to win another one though and that definitely isn’t a measure of her career by any means. After all, she has had numerous great finishes including ones such as 3rd place in the 2005 WPT Borgata Open that netted her $427,115, a 5th place finish at the 2006 WPT World Poker Finals No Limit Hold’em tourney which earned her $257,579, and a 3rd place finish at the 2008 WSOP World Championship of Pot Limit Hold’em that made her $306,064.

In all, Liebert has made well over $4.5 million in her poker playing career and can usually be found within the top 20 placers of any tournament that she enters. Perhaps the best quality about Kathy when it comes to her poker earnings is that she knows what to do with them afterwards. All along she has been keeping up with the stock market and invests whenever she can. She has said in the past that playing the stock market is a nice escape from the ups and downs that come with being a pro poker player. Besides the stock market, Liebert also enjoys Karate and has a blue belt to show for it.

But as successful as Kathy has been at finding interests outside of poker and managing her money, she has been equally unsuccessful at landing a major sponsorship deal. And this is puzzling since she is more than qualified to represent a major online company based on her previous resume. She is indeed the top female tournament money winner in poker history with her $4.5 million plus and some say she’s arguably the best female player of all time.

Luckily, at the beginning of June, 2008, someone took notice of all these accomplishments. Kathy was offered a small deal by PokerStars where she would represent Team PokerStars during the final table of the Pot Limit Hold’em World Championship in which she got 3rd. It was just a one day deal but at least it was something for the woman who’s outshined many of her sponsored peers over and over again in tournaments.

But whether Kathy ever lands a huge deal with someone is pretty much irrelevant to the accomplishments that she’s already had. Liebert will always be a head above the rest of her fellow poker players in handling her money and she is still actively adding to her successful poker career with more great finishes. At age 41, we should be seeing plenty more of Kathy Liebert for a long time to come.

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